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May 6th - Drowning Prevention: Residents are Reminded of the Dangers of Open Water

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS), Ottawa Fire Services, Ottawa Paramedic Service and their Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition (ODPC) partners are urging all residents to practice water safety when they are on, in or near water this season.

Tragically, there were seven drownings on local waterways in 2020. The pandemic, coupled with a combination of warm weather and people being near unfamiliar waters, were possible factors in those drownings.

Every weekend through the summer, the OPS Marine, Dive and Trails Unit will be on local waterways enforcing boating laws.

The Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition reminds us all that drownings are avoidable and to follow these tips for staying safe around open water.


  • Be aware of swimming in unknown waters; swift water and depths in our rivers can change quickly.

  • Always wear a life jacket in and around open bodies of water, no matter what level of swimmer you are. Currents are strong and there could be undertows.

  • Parents, stay within arms’ reach of your young children. Drowning can happen in a matter of seconds. Never leave your child unattended for even a short period of time and give them your undivided attention—put your phone down.

  • Swimming, boating and alcohol don’t mix. Alcohol reduces the rate your brain can process information, lowers your body temperature making you more prone to hypothermia, affects your sense of distance and can lead to risk-taking behaviour.

  • Pay attention to increased safety signage in places like Bate Island, Petrie Island, Prince of Wales Bridge and Vimy Bridge.


  • Drinking and driving laws apply on the water.

  • Wear a life jacket at all times.

  • Ensure you have all safety equipment aboard your vessel (this includes seadoos, paddleboards, canoes and kayaks). Check Transport Canada website for further details

  • Follow all posted speed limits and any other directional signage on the water.

Don’t forget, the water is still very cold and swift in some areas, at this time of year. Do you know the 1-10-1 principle of cold water immersion?

  • 1 Minute = Cold Shock

  • 10 Minutes = Cold Incapacitation

  • 1 Hour = HYPOTERMIA

Plan ahead and be prepared for an enjoyable and safe water season.

The Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition is made up of several public groups and agencies including the Life-Saving Society, Ottawa Police, Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Fire and Ottawa Paramedics to prevent the incidence of fatal and non-fatal drownings and other water-related injuries in the National Capital Region.

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